Whether you’ve never done a marketing plan and can’t seem to get started, or you’ve spent too much time on one that ended up being quickly forgotten and useless, this article is for you! Marielle Reussink of The EMMS shares how you can develop a strategic marketing plan that will be a useful tool for you and your business and not a waste of your precious time.
With marketing plans, like business plans and setting goals, there’s the fear that you’ll do it wrong. Or worse, that you’ll put in a lot of effort to develop THE perfect plan and then never see it through. If this has happened to you in the past, don’t worry. It happens to a lot of people!
So, what is the secret to creating a marketing plan that actually works? You need to make it meaningful to you! Before we get into what that exactly means and how you can do it, let’s consider what a marketing plan can do: A marketing plan is like a roadmap that helps you understand how to get from where you are now to where you want to be – it’s like a visual path to achieving your goals.
You see, marketing isn’t about creating pretty pictures and a bit of text or a video… it’s about knowing your target customers and how to connect with them, being consistent, paying attention to what’s working and what’s not, and always, always, always ensuring it is linked to achieving your objectives as a business!
Companies big and small have to make bets on what will work in marketing. But without knowing what success looks like, how will you know if you’re doing the right thing and using your resources wisely?
It can take weeks, months or years for your goals to come to fruition. So think of your marketing plan as a friendly reminder to keep at it, stay on track and not get distracted by setbacks or shiny things that might seem like a good use of your time on the surface.
Making your marketing plan meaningful
If I were to download and follow a marketing plan template from the internet, I’m fairly certain I’d never use it. That’s because they typically come in a format that doesn’t fit into my workflow. Here’s what you need to know about making your marketing plan meaningful:
#1 You need to design it in a format that works for you and your team.
Do you find visual cues helpful? Maybe you’d like to try using a whiteboard, creating a vision board or even writing things down on post-it notes. Whatever you need to do to make sure you can see the plan. Don’t forget to keep it in a place that you’ll be able to notice it on a regular basis.
Maybe your workflow is more centred around lists, productivity apps, spreadsheets or powerpoints. Whatever fits into your everyday work life is probably the best possible way to go. So, forget about what you may have been told is the right or wrong way to do these things; instead, find a format that you feel comfortable working with.
#2 Make sure that there’s a purpose behind everything you do.
Everyone is different so think about what matters to you and where your motivation comes from. Are you a numbers person? Be sure to attach hard figures to your goals in your marketing plan. Is your objective to help people in some way? Describe the impact you want to have and identify concrete signals that will let you know when it’s working. Is your purpose to make money? Great! Create revenue goals over time, and factor in budgets to achieve them.
Make your marketing plan stick
I’m a firm believer that the best way to remember to use your marketing plan on a regular basis is to make sure you don’t have to actually remember it. Create a system that will automatically remind you to look back at your plan, see how you’re progressing and adapt as necessary. For example, this could be a calendar-based system that automatically reminds you to check in weekly, monthly or quarterly. Or you could structure your meeting agendas around the tactics and goals in your marketing plan so that they’re always top of mind.
As your business grows, your circumstances will change and so will your goals. But that doesn’t have to render your marketing plan useless. Instead, it’s all the more reason to make your marketing plan a living, breathing tool that you’ll use all the time.
Say your marketing plan relies on attending trade shows to get your product in front of your audience, but all the shows you’re targeting are cancelled due to the coronavirus. Your marketing plan can help guide you to find an alternative that will get similar outcomes, instead of panicking and giving up on your strategy.
Want to give it a go, but not sure where to start? I’ll be sharing an easy-to-use guide (no, not another marketing plan template!) that you can use to create such a useful marketing plan on my blog.
Read her latest article on how to create a nimble marketing plan in times of crisis.
For more information, you can call me on 8522 1874, or follow me at the-emms.com/blog.
Marielle Reussink is a marketing professional, entrepreneur, advisor to start-ups, and founder of The EMMS.
Follow her at LinkedIn, Twitter and Medium.
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